The Borrowed landscape – Shakkei

The Mendip hills has some stunning views across the Somerset Countryside. Last weekend’s walk was no exception. After a long climb, we were rewarded with the most breathtaking view.
The view made me smile. I saw the perfectness of nature, I felt the power and space of God .The view was limitless- God is everywhere. There are no edges or limits to God’s presence, nor are there places where God is absent. God is all-knowing. God is infinite.

The view inspired and excited me. I wanted to walk more, explore this landscape, wonder, climb higher and look harder into the landscape that surrounded me.
Obviously, this view was not available to all. Even good health would not guarantee the same view. The view changes throughout the seasons and alters by the weather and the time of day.
But what if we could expand that view so others might see it? See the landscape that inspired and surrounded me.
That’s exactly what the gardener does. This inspiration is nothing new and using it has been practised for centuries. This Asian concept of Shakkei is very simple. The gardener uses their surroundings to expand the view.

How exciting is that!- Using what surrounds us; what’s already in place and what God has already given us. To pull the eye outwards, to look beyond what we normally see.

The challenge is to make full use of what we have, looking at ways to incorporate the landscape that surrounds us. When we look further, we find space. We see views we have never seen and mountains we have yet to climb.

When we keep looking beyond our horizons, we find God at work in the community that surrounds us. Instantaneously, everything just gets bigger.
When we expand our landscape, we look beyond our boarders and create an infinite space where God makes the impossible possible.
It’s taking the awesome view that made me smile, taking that view to those that can’t climb the hill. When you take the view and share it with God’s love, we strengthen the relationships between ourselves and the landscape in which we live. Looking outwardly into the landscape, we expand not only our horizons but the horizons of those that share and live in our community.
As a gardener, when I look from my garden to the distant and adjacent landscape features, my garden expands exponentially.

We are called to live outside of ourselves. Called to by Jesus
into the landscape that surrounds us. We are called to love and serve one another, to be authentic, exciting and embracing.

My six this Saturday are 6 borrowed landscapes viewed from my own garden.
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Upward borrowing – The evening Sky.

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Adjacent borrowing – Mature trees in the nearby cemetery.

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Adjacent borrowing –  Tress in the neighbour’s garden expands our garden view.

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Adjacent borrowing – Corylus avellana Contorta(  Twisted hazel)  is high on my wish list for my own garden. I love its twisted branches and enjoy looking at this plant from over the fence.

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Adjacent borrowing – Tress in the neighbour’s garden expands our garden view.

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Adjacent borrowing – Betula pendula, ( silver birch)  This tree is a few gardens away but its stunning and makes my Ginko tree in the foreground  look rather small.

Mark 6-15
And he said to them, ” Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”.

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The Happy Prince.

Last weekend I watched Rupert Everet’s film “ The happy prince”, the story of Oscar Wilde’s last few days.
Wilde’s body ailing and his mind spinning from past to present day we learn something about this poet and how during his time in prison he found God. A spiritual renewal, a fresh start – to be reborn.
Wilde upon release planned to turn his life around. Be a father to his sons, live once again as a family with his wife Constance. The film showed that while Wilde had faith he had hope.
Living in France Wilde’s old vices soon turned his life upside down, leaving him broken and in poverty.
As death becomes closer his friend/ lover Robbie Ross called for a priest at Wilde’s request. The priest spends time with Wilde, baptising him just before he dies. It showed how grace can transform and redeem us even when our pain is self-inflicted.
One question from the film has stayed with me. The priest asked the dying Wilde “ where did you lose your faith?”
I have been asking myself this all week, When did I lose my faith?
I have eventually found what was possibly my moment when things started to change, I was aged about 7. It was a baking hot day as it is today ( maybe that helped the memory ). I was dressed for the weather wearing shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops.
My sister I were playing that silly game of ringing the doorbell and running away. I can’t remember which one of us rang our front doorbell. I can’t remember my angry mum answering the ring.
I do remember running in flip-flops on a gravel path and falling over.
I remember the two bloody gravel filled knees, and the blood-soaked pillow from the large bleeding gash on my head. I was very scared and frightened.
I remember being told God was paying me back for ringing the doorbell and running away.
As a child I heard:  I’m bad and Gods mad at me, God made me fall over, God is why I am scared and hurting, God is causing me all this pain. I am so scared.

As an adult, I understand that God never dressed me in flip-flops that morning.  It was our free will that started the silly doorbell game.
As an adult, I have seen how God uses the circumstances we find ourselves in for good. It does no matter how impossible these circumstances seem.
God heals our wounds, brings us comfort and guidance. But best of all he brings love. Holds us in our pain so we in turn can hold others in pain and distress.
Everything does happen for a reason. I feel over as I was running scared in flip-flops.

My parents knew nothing of Gods grace and how that grace changes everything. It would be another 36 years before I would become transformed and my life enriched by God’s love and Grace.

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Ephesians 2:8-10 Good News Translation .
8-9 For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it. 10 God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.

Gardening is my default.

This weekend is our church weekend at home. We have been joined by writer, speaker and performer Dave Hopwood .
Dave uses film and other media, to lift the Jesus we read about in the Gospels off the page.
As Dave uses film I use my garden to help me understand the Gospels / faith. My gardening is the context that I understand. It’s part of my DNA ,it’s my default.
It’s having that physical connection to creation. It’s that connection that I find God rooted and growing inside my heart.
My six on Saturday this week is not from my garden. Instead I have chosen six photos from our church garden. It’s a beautiful peaceful garden maintained by a small number of volenteers.
No comments just enjoy the diversity and beauty of the garden.

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swifts and swallows

Submerged into the stillness of creation.
Feet deep in dew-laden grass.
I listen.
In solitude, the words come.

How do you write about the silence.
Explain the things we cannot see.
The wordless whispers of silent conversations.
Floating drifting words.
Ladened in love.

It’s the language of the heart.
Dictated to my mind.
Translating storing words before they fade into daydreams.
Capturing the silence.
Whispered softly from the heart.

Words become thoughts
Talk of truths.
Inspire my imitation.
Sparks of love.
Gently moving forward.
Always saying I am here.

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Emotions held in ink.

Sharing something of myself during a therapeutic / creative writing session. I realised why and how pastoral care is so important.
It offers something beyond the human. It reaches our inner selves, takes us to the place where love is.
When we connect with love we find it’s source. We realise that we are not alone, Jesus is with us.
Writing has become my way to express myself. To unpick my thoughts and feelings. To journey with my blurred jumbled words alongside Gods word.
I imagined the course would help with this writing (which it did).
I was not prepared for the sad emptiness that I felt on the journey home.
My thoughts and feelings remained on the paper stuffed into my hand bag. My emotions remained held in the ink.
Having just taken myself to some painful places, I needed to end the session with a prayer. Lift the written words from the paper and give them to God.
I made me realise how much pastoral support gives and has given me.
The love that has been poured over me. I have cried, laughed and journeyed to places I never imagined possible.
For me Pastoral care is doing. Its emotional and spiritual support. It’s walking with those in crises and trouble. Supporting those in grief, journeying with them. Sharing their joys, however small that joy might be. It’s seeing the gifts in people, they are possibly unaware they even have. Encouraging sharing in their delight, as they discover these gifts for themselves .
It’s the simple things: liking a Facebook post, a smile, noticing people, making conversation, a birthday greeting, a prayer. a email late at night, that tells someone they are loved.
It’s practical stuff too: it’s doing, it’s being, it’s listening . It’s this practical stuff that shows Christ living through us. It’s the action that comes from loving one another, because we ourselves are first loved by God.
Knowing we are loved is powerful and beautiful it heals. To tell someone they are loved is from God.
We take God to the people in the hands that we hold, the stories that we listen to, tears that we shed with one another, and the prayers we share.
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John 13:34-35 The Message (MSG)
34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

Just Being.

Emotional stored up energy.
Focused and realised.
Freedom giving.
Boundaries broken.
Just being.

Mind wanders to silence.
Paths form and grow
Boundless and limitless.
Love Intensifies the silence.
Just being.

Spiritually connected
Phisically contained.
Hedges, fences.
Familiar paths.
Safety in the knowing.
Secure
Just being.

Would I.
Could I break out.
Smashing paths, trampling fences, distorting dreams.
Hurting all.
That’s not me.

Could I.
Should I be wild and reckless
Selfish.
Boundaries would be lost .
love would be hurt.
That’s not me.

Silence beyond just being.
Prayers that never utter a word.
Peace and freedom.
Love that pulls me, beyond my boundaries.
Thats me.
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June Drop

My garden is a big part of who I am, it’s complicated.
My moods and temperaments, my hopes and dreams are all reflected in the garden. It’s my visual soul. My garden connects me to Jesus,to my thoughts. It helps me sort out and understand the questions that wiz around in my head,

Six on Saturday. Six things, in my garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything – a tool, a job completed, a flower, a leaf, wildlife, a pest, a success, anything at all!

Here’s my Six for this week.

Brassica nigra. (Black Mustard)
As an outward sign of my faith, I wear a mustard seed set into a pink heart necklace.

“Matthew 17:20  (GNT)
“It was because you do not have enough faith,” answered Jesus. “I assure you that if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this hill, ‘Go from here to there!’ and it will go. You could do anything”

I used to visualise Black mustard as this massive plant with sunflower-like flowers tall and showy almost beyond reach, packed full of seed.
This year I sowed Black mustard seed.
As you can see from the picture it’s no giant. It looks like rape seed that litters our hedgerows and spreads from the farmer’s fields into our gardens.
My disappointment was short lived when I realised it’s not the size that makes the mustard seed so special. It’s what the mustard seed does – it spreads and grows easily.
If we live our faith as a mustard seed we don’t grow upwards and flower out of reach,
We flower where all can see, sharing and spreading our faith as far as possible.
That’s what I found so amazing: the potential of that one little seed.
I am going to spread mustard plants all around my neighbourhood. I might not be popular but I will be a conversation starter.

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Aruncus dioicus
(please correct me if it’s not)
I inherited this from the previous keepers of my garden.
It’s stunning this time of year so deserves a mention today.
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Malus Domestica – Bradley’s seedling.
My apple tree will be on a mission to self-distrust during June ( June drop ). Dropping what it knows it cannot hold.
I am holding to much, trying not to drop, trying not to cry and just carry on. I need to stop pray and drop my pains and offer them to God.
I need to take advice from my apple tree.

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Phacelia tanacetifolia
It’s amazing how we are subconsciously drawn to what pleases us. Plants in the Boraginaceae family always attract me. They also attract the bees.
This little pot bound beauty will be found a space in my garden.A place her roots can grow and she can thrive.

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Actinidia deliciosa

deliciosa means ‘delicious tasting’ with reference to the fruit.

This kiwi is planted in my garden at the point where I journey and move from one garden room into another.
The kiwi is that fruitful gateway.
The trouble is the kiwi it needs support and training. At the moment it rambles in its own direction. I am constantly pulling it out of trees, encouraging it to grow in a less wild way. Without support it will never be fruitful.

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Persicaria affnis

This little plant quietly flowers for most of the summer. It’s simple leaf and pink flower spikes grow around the edge of my pond. I like its simpleness and its dependability.

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